Not that NFL scouts would ever forget, but Miami Hurricanes tackle Ereck Flowers is a reminder that you can’t judge a prospect by his worst game.
For Flowers, that game – at least in 2014 – was against the Virginia Cavaliers last November. Miami surrendered four sacks, the Hurricanes got spanked, and the Cavaliers “ate [Flowers’] lunch a little bit,” Mike Mayock said Monday.
Then the NFL Network analyst popped in the Nebraska tape. A completely different story. Flowers was so good against top edge rusher Randy Gregory, the Cornhuskers switched the all-conference defensive end to the other side of the line, Mayock learned.
And when Mayock watched Flowers against Florida State, he saw more of the same.
That’s why, of the eight Miami Hurricanes players invited to this week’s NFL Scouting Combine, held as always in Indianapolis, Flowers intrigues Mayock the most.
“I really like the kid,” Mayock said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “He plays at a high level. Worst-case scenario, he’s a right tackle, and perhaps a left tackle down the road.”
Mayock lists Flowers as the draft’s fourth-best tackle. Most expect the Miami Norland High lineman to go late in the first round.
And he might be the first Hurricanes player taken, which means more than it did the past few years.
This appears to be the deepest and best group of UM recruits in years — which makes the team’s 6-7 record in 2014 all the more puzzling.
Joining Flowers at the Combine this week are defensive end Anthony Chickillo, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, guard Jon Feliciano, cornerback Ladarius Gunter, running back Duke Johnson, linebacker Denzel Perryman and tight end Clive Walford.
“Perryman is fun to watch on tape,” Mayock said. “He reminds me a little of [former UM linebacker] Jon Beason. All he does is make plays. I also like Duke Johnson. He’s got quickness and explosion, really a tough kid. Gunter, the corner, is a mid-round kid with some upside.”
Mayock will be a big part of NFL Network’s 45 hours of live coverage from Indianapolis, which begins in earnest on Wednesday. That’s the day Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey will meet with reporters — and will surely be asked about the team’s litany of issues.
The first domino still to fall this offseason: What to do with Mike Wallace?
Wallace’s mounting frustrations erupted in the season finale — earning him a spot on the bench for the last two quarters of 2014.
“I think if you look at their team, one concern I would have on offense is wide receiver,” Mayock said. “I don’t think we know what’s going to happen with Wallace and [Brian] Hartline. That could become a need.”
Though Hartline could become a salary-cap casualty, there’s quiet optimism around the organization that Wallace will be back in Miami next season.
The Dolphins need him to be. They have needs throughout their defense — from the line to the linebackers to the secondary.
“They need a corner pretty bad, and probably need an edge guy,” Mayock said, pointing to Cameron Wake’s advancing age. “I think [with the 14th overall pick] they could get a quality corner and come back in the second round and get a wide receiver or an edge rusher or whatever they need.”
Possible cornerback options at No. 14 include Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, Washington’s Marcus Peters and Jalen Collins from LSU.